Local

‘Encourage our community’: Candidate could make history as first Latino in statewide office

CHARLOTTE — A state treasurer candidate is looking to make history.

If he wins in November, Democratic candidate Gabe Esparza would be the first Latino to win a statewide office in North Carolina.

“We are 1.2 million Latinos in North Carolina and have almost no political power to speak of,” Esparza said to a crowd of supporters during a rally on Tuesday, “We have great people at the local level but no people at the state level”

He is up against state representative Wesley Harris in the primary.

During Tuesday’s rally, Esparza spoke with Telemundo reporter, Jorge Velez, about the importance of investing in local communities.

“It’s very important to encourage our community, in the history of North Carolina many Latinos don’t vote, and now we have a Latino, Spanish candidate something the other party doesn’t have. It’s important in all of North Carolina, it’s an opportunity to invest in our communities, but especially here in Charlotte,” Esparza said.

Nathalia Silva, a community leader, attended the rally and highlighted Esparza’s work with small businesses.

“He is a person that is willing to work with the SBA, Small Business Association, which is very important; especially for negotiations in Washington,” Silva said.

Manolo Betancourt is an entrepreneur, based here in Charlotte. He sees Esparza as a way for the Latino voice to be heard in state government.

“We now have someone to represent us,” he said.

Both Esparza and his opponent, Harris share the same views regarding the state’s allegedly flawed pension plan. However, both candidates have vastly different backgrounds that give them a different outlook.

“I am a native North Carolinian and the only candidate in this race who has lived in rural, suburban, and urban NC. I grew up in rural NC so I understand the challenges there, and I have the experience to go to every part of this state and build a winning coalition,” Harris said.

“I have a top-notch education that provided the foundation for a successful 25+ year career in the private sector leading large organizations, going toe-to-toe negotiating against large corporate interests, managing budgets, and investing money,” said Esparza, who attended Stanford and Harvard universities, “I also have over a decade of public sector experience as both a Commissioner of the Civil Service Commission and a senior official in the Biden Administration.”